Watch out for rattlesnakes on Tybee Island, police warn

Rattlesnakes - Fast Facts

Watch out for rattlesnakes on Tybee Island.

That’s the warning from the Tybee Island Police Department this week after an alarming rise in snake sightings at the beach, which is a popular weekend retreat for Atlanta residents.

The department recently shared a video to social media of one of the reptiles bellying through the dunes, barely visible amid the tall beachgrass where the snakes typically nest.

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“By now it should come as no surprise that we share our island with a wide variety of wildlife, to include rattlesnakes,” the Tybee Island Police Department said on Facebook. “These critters often nest in the island’s dune system and usually stay well out of the way of our residents and guests. Lately, however, our officers have seen an increase in calls involving rattlesnakes.”

A month ago, Tybee Island police shot and killed a large rattler that was spotted slithering near an RV Campground on North Tybee, according to WTOC News 11. A couple out riding their bikes were frightened when they saw the snake wriggle across the path in front of them.

Despite the fear they evoke, snakes play an important role in Georgia’s ecosystem.

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Of the 46 snake species known in the state, six are actually venomous, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' wildlife division. And of those six, experts say bites from only three — the timber rattlesnake, Eastern diamondback and cottonmouth — are realistically threatening.

The rattle is a warning sign that the snake is aware of a threat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta provides guidelines on what to do if someone is bitten by a snake. The first suggestion is to try to remember the color and shape of the snake, which can help with treatment of the snake bite.

Timber rattlers, the most commonly seen in Georgia according to the UGA SREL Herpetology Program, “are typically more brown or yellowish and may even be black. Both forms have solid black tails that appear almost velvet and black chevrons on the back and sides with the point of the (V) pointing forward.”

Snake sightings on Tybee Island can be reported by calling the police at 912-786-5600.